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Catalytic converter thefts rising in the Treasure Valley

After thieves targeted their vans, a Boise daycare is urging others to protect themselves.

BOISE, Idaho — Since the start of the pandemic, catalytic converter thefts have been one of the property crimes increasing at a rapid rate in the Treasure Valley. Now, Boise residents and businesses are feeling the effects of these thefts, including the Boise Barnyard Daycare and Learning Center.

Daycare owner Liane Lemons said the thefts happened just before the daycare's Christmas break at around 3 a.m.

“We have all these other issues with the pandemic going on and now we have to deal with people stealing them off our vans," she said. 

Catalytic converters are used in vehicles to control engine exhaust emissions, and contain rare and valuable metals inside, making them attractive to thieves.

Lemons said the culprits were caught on surveillance video outside the daycare.

"You can tell that they are all masked up," she said. "They have their hoodies on, and they are obviously in theft mode, so, it's really hard to identify based on our video.”

She posted the surveillance video on the website NextDoor in hopes of being able to find those responsible.

One neighbor came forward with a doorbell camera video that shows the pair carrying off the catalytic converters, but no suspects have been identified.

Boise Police Crime and Prevention Supervisor Ed Frits says the crime trend is tied to metal prices.

“When the prices of metal started increasing for the precious metals found in the catalytic converters is when they started seeing the thefts happen again," he said.

According to the Boise Police Department, 44 stolen catalytic converters were reported since October 1, 2021. Fritz says thieves usually take the converters and sell them to recycling centers and junkyards.

United Metal Recycling in Boise and they say they follow an extensive guide before they purchase any catalytic converters.

This type of theft can happen anywhere, and Fritz says staying prepared and aware is key to preventing this from happening to you.

"We've encouraged people to engrave your driver's license and license plate numbers on the catalytic converter itself," Fritz said. "Park in well-lit areas and in well-populated areas, and areas that are very busy."

The Boise Police Department encourages anyone with more information about Lemons' case to reach out to them directly.

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